Ezekiel 8

A Desecrated Temple

1In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month,
The LXX reads “In the sixth year, in the fifth month, on the fifth of the month.”
In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month would be September 17, 592 b.c., about fourteen months after the initial vision.
as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting in front of me, the hand
Or “power.”
Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s hand being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
of the sovereign Lord seized me.
Heb “fell upon me there,” that is, God’s influence came over him.
2As I watched, I noticed
The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb (so also throughout the chapter).
a form that appeared to be a man.
The MT reads “fire” rather than “man,” the reading of the LXX. The nouns are very similar in Hebrew.
From his waist downward was something like fire,
The MT reads “what appeared to be his waist and downwards was fire.” The LXX omits “what appeared to be,” reading “from his waist to below was fire.” Suggesting that “like what appeared to be” belongs before “fire,” D. I. Block (Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:277) points out the resulting poetic symmetry of form with the next line as followed in the translation here.
and from his waist upward something like a brightness,
The LXX omits “like a brightness.”
like an amber glow.
3He stretched out the form
The Hebrew term is normally used as an architectural term in describing the pattern of the tabernacle or temple or a representation of it (see Exod 25:8; 1 Chr 28:11).
of a hand and grabbed me by a lock of hair on my head. Then a wind
Or “spirit.” See note on “wind” in 2:2.
lifted me up between the earth and sky and brought me to Jerusalem
For the location of Jerusalem see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; Journey of Paul map 1-F4; Journey of Paul map 2-F4; Journey of Paul map 3-F4; Journey of Paul map 4-F4.
by means of divine visions, to the door of the inner gate which faces north where the statue
Or “image.”
which provokes to jealousy was located.
4Then I perceived that the glory of the God of Israel was there, as in the vision I had seen earlier in the valley.

5 He said to me, “Son of man, look up toward
Heb “lift your eyes (to) the way of.”
the north.” So I looked up toward the north, and I noticed to the north of the altar gate was this statue of jealousy at the entrance.

6 He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing – the great abominations that the people
Heb “house.”
of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see greater abominations than these!”

7 He brought me to the entrance of the court, and as I watched, I noticed a hole in the wall. 8He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and discovered a doorway.

9 He said to me, “Go in and see the evil abominations they are practicing here.” 10So I went in and looked. I noticed every figure
Or “pattern.”
of creeping thing and beast – detestable images
Heb “detestable.” The word is often used to describe the figures of foreign gods.
– and every idol of the house of Israel, engraved on the wall all around.
These engravings were prohibited in the Mosaic law (Deut 4:16–18).
11Seventy men from the elders of the house of Israel
Note the contrast between these seventy men who represented Israel and the seventy elders who ate the covenant meal before God, inaugurating the covenant relationship (Exod 24:1, 9).
(with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them) were standing in front of them, each with a censer in his hand, and fragrant
The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT.
vapors from a cloud of incense were swirling upward.

12 He said to me, “Do you see, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in the chamber of his idolatrous images?
Heb “the room of his images.” The adjective “idolatrous” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
This type of image is explicitly prohibited in the Mosaic law (Lev 26:1).
For they think, ‘The Lord does not see us! The Lord has abandoned the land!’”
13He said to me, “You will see them practicing even greater abominations!”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the Lord’s house. I noticed
Given the context this could be understood as a shock, e.g., idiomatically “Good grief! I saw….”
women sitting there weeping for Tammuz.
The worship of Tammuz included the observation of the annual death and descent into the netherworld of the god Dumuzi. The practice was observed by women in the ancient Near East over a period of centuries.
15He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see even greater abominations than these!”

16 Then he brought me to the inner court of the Lord’s house. Right there
The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something.
at the entrance to the Lord’s temple, between the porch and the altar,
The priests prayed to God between the porch and the altar on fast days (Joel 2:17). This is the location where Zechariah was murdered (Matt 23:35).
were about twenty-five
The LXX reads “twenty” instead of twenty-five, perhaps because of the association of the number twenty with the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash.
Or “exactly twenty-five.”
men with their backs to the Lord’s temple,
The temple faced east.
facing east – they were worshiping the sun
Or “the sun god.”
The worship of astral entities may have begun during the reign of Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:5).
toward the east!

17 He said to me, “Do you see, son of man? Is it a trivial thing that the house of Judah commits these abominations they are practicing here? For they have filled the land with violence and provoked me to anger still further. Look, they are putting the branch to their nose!
It is not clear what the practice of “holding a branch to the nose” indicates. A possible parallel is the Syrian relief of a king holding a flower to his nose as he worships the stars (ANEP 281). See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:145–46. The LXX glosses the expression as “Behold, they are like mockers.”
18Therefore I will act with fury! My eye will not pity them nor will I spare
The meaning of the Hebrew term is primarily emotional: “to pity,” which in context implies an action, as in being moved by pity in order to spare them from the horror of their punishment.
them. When they have shouted in my ears, I will not listen to them.”

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